Thursday, November 8, 2012

How To Have FUN With FIckle Pickle's Helping SINFUL SKINFUL!

People are so hung up on their prejudices, over seriousness, fears, lies, and selfishness that it's damned sad to know that they just can't have any fun in their lives because they won't allow it. When the only joy people get is to mock others over stereotypes it is such a load of shite and hogwash that it brings me down myself. I personally have two major loves that keep me going: Soldiers and Music. I'd like to spend more time with soldiers. I love to talk to them, yes I am attracted to them and not ashamed of that at all, and they bring us a lot of good things that we take for granted. I find most soldiers whether they are German, British (the two best right there), Canadian, American (the Marines are the best), or any kind really to be very fun loving and strong willed people who bring me a lot of pleasure and who I am forever indebted to. I doubt I would have been so resolutely able to face up to my desires, my hopes, my fears, and my lifelong goal were it not for them. So thanks very very much is not enough thanks to them! Cheers and catch you soon my mates and comrades!
         -Fickle Pickle or A British Humorous Pop Psych/Progressive Masterpiece-
        A band who didn't take anything at all too seriously and who it really could be debatable whether they were a band or just a studio one off is the mightily connected Fickle Pickle. All 4 of them hailed from York in Yorkshire and I give my love to the people of that very badly hit city and county where I have one of my very best friends. York produced all of the bands they are interconnected with and it's a pretty stellar list indeed. Geoff Gill (Drums, vocals) was a founding member of The Smoke whilst Cliff Wade (guitars, keyboards, bass, drums, vocals) was in the early 70s incarnation of that group together with former Motherlight/Orange Bicycle/solo artist Wil Malone (Keyboards, vocals, string arrangement). They met up with a fellow Yorkshireman in Red Dirt lead guitarist/vocalist/bass guitarist Steve Howden and became known both as a 70s Smoke line up and more importantly to this entry Fickle Pickle.
    All of the 4 had cut their teeth in 1960s Beatles influenced Mod bands so it is not surprising that echoes of 1967 to 1969 psychedelic pop are a huge part of every song on their album. Much heavier than The Smoke's 1960s output, though, the right comparison to a 60s behemoth group would be The Move. There are also heavy Beatles, Beach Boys, and Small Faces influences cropping up making for more of the 1967-1969 vibe where things were really happening and then getting a bit heavier, but shockingly Fickle Pickle met with complete indifference in Great Britain. It hadn't been going well for them in any of their previous outfits and as a joke or just a blind hope for a hit they recorded in England and released a version of Paul McCartney's "Maybe I'm Amazed" in Holland. The single took off and so the strange irony of Dutch success and British indifference led to their only album SINFUL SKINFUL which comprised all original material only released on a tiny Dutch label Explosion. You'll have a lot of trouble tracking this one down. Even the CD reissue of it is really hard to find and my only way to get the original album was to get it through an online dealer in (you guessed it) The Netherlands. It was well worth the investment and after stupidly letting it go once I saved it for a permanent residence in my collection. This album is brilliant!
     The Dutch knew a lot about psychedelic, pop, and progressive music with a scene full of exciting bands in the 1960s such as Sandy Coast, After Tea, The Shoes, The Motions, later on Earth And Fire, Shocking Blue, early BZN (actually their first incarnation came about also later around 1971), and a whole host of others. So much great music came out of Holland that together with their old enemies Germany they were the top country in Europe for quality. Also, some British bands not unlike Fickle Pickle fared better in The Netherlands and Germany than they did in England eventually giving up on any hope of British success. Fickle Pickle's one off album and several singles are as British as you can get and that makes me really wonder about just what was wrong with the buying public and record labels in England. However, The Smoke had only had a brief amount of success in Germany and Motherlight had had none anywhere making it not too big a surprise that when they joined forces with Howden from the equally ill fated hard rock band Red Dirt to form Fickle Pickle that it wasn't exactly going to take off in a big way.
      The surprise is this: SINFUL SKINFUL is one of the most musically relevant works ever to be recorded by a band from anywhere for pop psych into glam, melodic prog, and hard rock with nods to the later period of The Move and not just the 1960s one, a sort of premonition of 10cc's genius, and even bands like Slade (just one track, though, Side Two's rocker "Let Me Tell You Something") and Badfinger.  Heavy Beatles influences appear in the harmonies, Macca like lead vocals and melodies, but Fickle Pickle weren't copycats they were the real deal. Miles better than any number of hugely priced other pop psych or progressive albums there is plenty of high spirited fun and variety on their album. From the very Beach Boys/Idle Race/Beatles numbers such as the first track "California Calling," "Sandy" (part 2 of a 2 part suite with the magical title track), "Saturday" (with an impressive nod to The Move), and "Sunshine Pie" to the bagpipe rural rock weirdness of "Only For The Summer" which recalls a heavily drugged Honeybus to progressive psych numbers like the wonderful Small Faces meets Prototype Queen of "Down Smokey Lane" this record is killer from start to finish. Up there with the very best melodic records there are two giant leaps into complete lunacy with the crazy "Doctor Octopus" and the Music Hall gone wrong on purpose mellotron weirdness of "Blown Away." Wil Malone wrote the string arrangement that graces the lovely "Saturday" and he even looked a bit like Move mainman Roy Wood! Move and Beatles comparisons are inevitable, unavoidable, but don't worry about anything derivative or unoriginal as those are two things this album firmly avoids. Instead you get an album's worth of genius level pop psych and progressive power pop right up there with the best like Honeybus, Tin Tin, The Move, The Idle Race, The Left Banke, and the best of early solo McCartney, 10cc, and Queen.
    Why are people so intent on placing the blame of their own shortcomings on whole countries or other asinine stupidities instead of themselves!? I must admit I really do love Germans and I could care less about the fill-in-the-blanks in the past as all could have been prevented and do you think the Germans liked having nearly their entire young population wiped out by an insane dictator? NO. The Dutch can be pissed off to a certain extent, but most of the soldiers were just kids and men who didn't know what the fuck was going on. They would all, like The Dutch, The French, and all the countries that suffered, have rather there be no war at all. If you think that soldiers enjoy being pushed over the edge of reason into the polar opposite of that look out because you are wrong. I try not to fill my time up with depressing miserable thoughts and it can be hard to do, but you can do it. Let go of all nationalism and prejudice and lay back and love the good things like Fickle Pickle's SINFUL SKINFUL.

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